I was a strange boy. I can see that now. I’ve since met boys like me: slow to smile, intense, guarded and watchful.
Lisa Jewell’s novels seem to be descending into darker territory and I absolutely love it! This is a novel about a sinister invasion, but it’s not demons or ghosts that will destroy the Lamb family. How could trying to make your wife happy be a bad thing? It will require changes, surely, but it isn’t outside Henry’s reach, it doesn’t require more than acceptance. By the end, both Martina and Henry will be dead from a suicide pact, according to police reports anyway. The two teenage Lamb children will be unaccounted for and the baby ( possibly 10 months old) the sole survivor among the dead.This baby girl, Libby Louise Jones has just turned 25 and is stunned to learn she is the sole owner of her biological parent’s mansion left to her in a trust, ‘on the finest street in Chelsea’. This changes everything, no longer will she have to scrimp and save, nor make compromises in life, now- her adoptive mother tells her ‘you’ll be a very rich woman indeed.’
The house remembers what was and has been waiting, despite the years it’s been closed up, even if Libby was too young to absorb everything that led to that ill fated day in 1977, the traces remain like a haunt. The story begs to be told, and there are others who have been waiting for Libby too. One person in particular in another part of the world, and they know more than they can stomach, for they have been living their own nightmare, dealing in lies, subterfuge and know all too well the weight of identity. As she researches the chilling story of her own origins, she paints a terrifying picture, shocked to learn she had siblings is the least of it the bigger jolt is that they seemed to vanish without a trace. Worse, there were more bodies, other missing children- what exactly was her biological family caught up in? This birthday gift is a trapdoor that will take her into a chilling past. Every answer comes with bigger questions. Why were they living in poverty? Her father Henry came from wealth, heir to his father’s money, so what went wrong? Who were these other people, why were they living in her parent’s home? What about the robes, were they a cult?
Without giving away the story, the sheer terror for children is the control, the power of the adult world. There are many ways mommy and daddy can fail their children, not every trauma comes from a raised fist. There are a million ways to neglect duty, the Lambs’ demise is in opening their home. Minds close, purses tighten, blindness sets in and their entire world shrinks within the walls of the gorgeous home. There can only be one head of this family, naturally it will be the most charismatic force and it will be the collapse of them all.
As Libby unearths every skeleton of the past and attempts to assemble the remains of her family, every truth also contains the germ of a lie. Before the end, she will uncover the entire tale, and discover that the things she imagined all her life about her biological family pales in comparison to the twisted reality of just who they were.
I can’t wait for Lisa Jewell’s next novel. She writes of the fractures within’ families so perfectly, because often the things people do really come out of nowhere and leave you wondering if you knew them, and let’s face it sometimes yourself, at all.
Publication Date: November 5, 2019